What is this game about?
Urbion is the second game in Shadi Torbey's Oniverse series, and it's woefully out of print. Unlike Onirim and Sylvion, as well as all the other Oniverse games in circulation, Urbion has not received the deluxe treatment from Z-Man.
The object of Urbion is to bring balance to each of the twelve cities in the game before your deck of cards runs out. These are cities of dreams, which means they are inhabited by both pleasant dreams and terrifying nightmares. Essentially, your goal is to place bad dream cards on one side of your city cards, place good dreams on the other, and perform balance checks to claim cities when they are in equilibrium. (The original name of this game was, in fact, Equilibrion.) However, it won't be as simple as that.
Each turn, you will look at your hand of cards and play one. You'll have a mix of good and bad dreams, each with different numerical values from one to four. Your first option is to place a dream next to one of the city cards currently available (you can work on four at a time). You'll need to pay attention to the symbols on your dream and city cards, because they need to match. Alternatively, you can play a card to the discard pile. Discarding a card allows you to manipulate dreams already in play—as well as to bend placement rules a bit, which is a key ability in the fight for balance. The discard action also allows you to perform a balance check, which you'll need to do to collect cities. If you can bring all four cities into equilibrium and then do a balance check, you'll score an extra city card, so it can be very tempting to wait.
Don't expect to go about your business uninterrupted, however—there are Chaos cards in your dream deck, and they don't want you to succeed in your task. When they appear, they will force you to make unpleasant choices that push your cities out of balance or cause you to discard dream cards. And because your deck is your timer, you don't want to lose too many.
How does it play solo?
Like its other Oniverse siblings, Urbion is technically for 1–2 players, but I really view it as a solo game.
Urbion is, like all of the Oniverse games released to date, a good, enjoyable solo game. The turn structure is simple, but in-game decisions can be complicated, especially when choosing how to handle a chaos card. It's a fun puzzle to decide how to distribute your dream cards, and how to manipulate them to bring cities into balance. And I absolutely love the temptation to wait to perform a balance check, knowing that if you can bring all four cities into balance at once, the rewards are big—but also that yet another chaos card might be right around the corner. I find that the game gets better after a few plays, when I've gotten familiar with the contents of the deck again and have a sense of what might be left in there when I'm deciding what to discard.
That said, Urbion is not a perfect game. Like its predecessor, Onirim, much of the game will depend on luck of the draw, and it's possible to have a bad run of cards that causes you to lose the game. It also feels like there is a bit less you can do in Urbion to mitigate your luck. In Onirim you might be able to use a Key to dispel a nightmare card, but in Urbion a chaos card will pretty much wreck you no matter what.
My other quibble is with Urbion's graphic design. I love the art of the Oniverse, and Urbion is no different. However, the symbols on the dream and city cards are bland, and tend to blend into the colorful card art around them in a way that makes them easy to miss when you're just excited about playing a dream card.
Do I recommend it?
If you find an affordable copy, or if it comes back into print, then yes. But if you're feeling FOMO and a strong desire to complete your Oniverse collection, take a step back. This is a good game, but there are a lot of very good small card games you can get for a reasonable price.
If you want to know how I feel about Urbion in comparison with other games in the Oniverse series, Jason Perez from ENGN and I ranked them in this video.
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.